It’s been over a year and a half since Australia’s international borders were closed, so it’s no surprise that many of us want to go abroad for vacations or see human beings. Dear.
While the federal government has said it hopes to allow international travel by Christmas “at the latest”, no date has been set despite national COVID-19 vaccination rates quickly approaching 80 percent – the point at which the national plan settles there. be a “gradual reopening of inbound and outbound international travel with safe countries”.
The aviation industry and travelers have also called for greater clarity on how return-to-travel works.
But that hasn’t stopped many Australians desperate to reunite with their families from dusting off their passports and booking outbound flights for later in the year, crossing their fingers they could get home.
For anyone starting to dream of a vacation, the destination chosen may depend more on accessibility – and some top list locations may be more difficult to reach than others as we take our cautious first steps towards it. openness to the world.
Where will the flights from Australia go?
Jetstar owner Qantas and Virgin Australia have both unveiled the first batch of international routes that will restart once Australia’s borders open.
Starting in December, Qantas plans to resume flights to “COVID-safe” destinations including the UK, US, Japan, Singapore, Canada and Fiji. In a statement released this week, the airline said it was still on track to gradually restart flights from December 18, subject to government approval.
Qantas also plans to restart trans-Tasman flights between Australia and New Zealand from mid-December assuming the travel bubble has reopened, while flights to Hong Kong are expected to return from February.
As part of its plan to reopen, the airline has said it will temporarily postpone the restart of its flagship direct route from Perth to London due to continued uncertainty over restrictions at the state’s internal borders.
Instead, Qantas said it was in talks with the Northern Territory government to assess whether a daily Melbourne-Darwin-London route could fill the void.
“People are clearly eager to travel,” Qantas Group Managing Director Alan Joyce said in a statement on Sunday. “We saw a 175% increase in web searches the week after announcing our plans and we had strong bookings for December and January for our flights to London, Los Angeles and Singapore in particular.”
He said the key factor in increasing services was changing quarantine rules for returning Australians. “We hope the system will evolve quickly so that vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries do not have to self-quarantine upon arrival,” Joyce said.
Currently only South Australia and New South Wales have committed to testing a home quarantine system, but Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan has indicated he hopes that will have changed by now. the end of the year.
As for the rest of Qantas and Jetstar’s international routes, there are plans to reopen them from April next year.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has scheduled a number of services between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and Nadi on the main island of Fiji from December 23-24. Following this, a spokesperson said flights to New Zealand would resume in early 2022 and services to Bali from March next year.
“We will continue to add flights as travel demand increases and restrictions on international travel begin to ease,” the spokesperson said.
And in Australia?
For those looking to stay closer to home this summer, it seems likely that an interstate getaway is a possibility.
With the announcement of roadmaps for reopening Victoria and NSW, Qantas said it would advance plans to restart interstate services to November 5.
The news is less promising for Western Australians hoping to travel to the eastern states – or those wishing to return to Perth for Christmas.
In the same update, Qantas announced that it will cancel most of its flights between Western Australia and Sydney and Melbourne until at least February 1.
“Based on our discussions with Western Australia, we know their borders will not be open to NSW and Victoria until early next year, so unfortunately we had to cancel flights. that we had planned on these routes before Christmas, ”said Mr. Joyce.
Flights between Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and South Australia will continue as normal, while services between Western Australia and Queensland are expected to increase “in the coming weeks” meanwhile. relaxation of travel restrictions.
Do other countries have restrictions?
Many do, and Australians will need to make sure they are aware of all the restrictions and requirements of the country they are planning to travel to.
This can include proof of vaccination, negative COVID-19 test results, and periods of quarantine.
For example, Japan, one of the “COVID-safe” destinations on Qantas’ list, currently requires fully vaccinated travelers to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival and return a negative test before they can travel. freely.
Singapore is also currently closed to short-term travelers from Australia, but a no-quarantine “green lane” trial for fully vaccinated travelers from some countries gives some indication of what will be required of travelers in the future.
As part of the trial, travelers were required to complete and pay for three COVID-19 tests upon arrival in addition to one negative result before departure.
Meanwhile, Canada introduced a vaccination mandate for all inbound international travelers.
In Fiji, where tourism is the country’s largest industry, the plan is to allow tourists to return from November 1.
While the COVID-19 situation is likely to change in destination countries as Australia’s reopening approaches, it is almost certain that a return to the way we traveled before the pandemic is a long way off.
What you will need before you travel
With many details about the reopening of borders in Australia yet to be revealed, it’s not entirely clear.
But the government’s announcement earlier this year of a vaccine passport suggests that your COVID-19 vaccine status will play a key role in whether you can get on a plane and possibly whether you will need to quarantine yourself when you disembark.
The vaccination passport, scheduled for deployment from October, will be accessible through an app and will include the same information as your regular passport as well as a QR code that can be scanned by border officials to prove your vaccination status.
Mr Tehan said the government was in talks with international embassies to ensure Australia’s vaccine passport would be accepted once people could travel overseas.
In some countries, access may depend on the type of vaccine you have received – for example, the United States does not currently recognize AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) – but it is not yet clear how this will work.
Of course, you’ll still need your regular passport, so maybe it’s time to check that it’s still up to date.
And while travel insurance has always been a hallmark of overseas travel, with the possibility of sudden outbreaks or unexpected quarantine requirements, it is likely to become even more important in the post-pandemic world.
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